Caitlin UltimoPet Parenting / Pet Stories

Mowgli’s Bucket List: Facing Cancer and Making the Most of It

Mowgli sitting between his sister (left) and fur friends (right).

As we ring in 2017 and begin a new year, I can’t help but feel that I should be excited to say good riddance to 2016. Last February we received my best friend’s lymphoma diagnosis. My best friend, Mowgli, happens to be a brown 7-year-old male Pointer mix. Devastated truly does not even begin to describe how I felt. The diagnosis was—and still—is one of the worst things I have ever heard. We researched, we weighed different options, and we have done absolutely everything in our power to try to achieve a full cure for Mowgs. However, when even the most extreme measures resulted in relapse, our family was forced to come to terms with the reality of the situation. And, while reality was not a place we wanted to be, in an attempt to make the most out of the time we had left together, we decided to create a bucket list for Mowgli. 

#1: Adventure to as many new places as possible. We’ve hiked as a family more than we ever have in the past, which has been great for all of us. We’ve explored mountains and lakes, and we even got Mowgli to enjoy a canoe ride. A 14er is a mountain that meets or exceeds an elevation of 14,000 feet. Because Mowgli loves to hike and because we have access to several of these in Colorado, we’ve made it our goal to hike a 14er with him this spring. Great Sand Dunes National Park is another spot on our list, and we’re planning a weekend camping trip there to hike the dunes with both Mowgli and his sister Bagheera (a brindle 7-year-old female Pit mix). And this summer, we plan to take the pups on some weekend trips to explore and hike near some of Colorado’s beautiful lakes. Our goal is for Mowgli to be able to say that he’s seen some of the largest bodies of water in Colorado, including Blue Mesa Reservoir, Grand Lake and Lake Grandby. 

#2: Eat as much yummy food as possible. Well, the vet gave us the okay to spoil Mowgli with people food. Per the oncology techs, he’s allowed to eat whatever he wants so long as he maintains his weight. And it’s as though he knows that they told me that. These days, he walks over to his bowl of dog food, eats a few bites and then the dance begins. He takes a few steps back, looks at me, at his bowl, and back at me again until I mix in something special.

#3: Take snuggling to a new level. Every morning as part of our routine, Mowgli jumps into bed with me and snuggles right up into my chest before we get up to start the day. I cherish this time and truly take it in, knowing each morning that we won’t be able to do this forever and savoring the sweetness while I can.

#4: Help other pets in need. We intend to continue to participate in fundraising events organized by local rescue organizations as well as some of the rescue organizations we have worked with in South Florida. All funds raised and time dedicated to this cause will always be donated in Mowgli’s name so that his legacy lives on. In September, we put together a team of Mowgli’s friends to go on a local hike and raised over $1,000 for pets in need at a local rescue organization.

#5: Touch the hearts of others. Every time we go out and everywhere we go, people seem to be drawn to Mowgli, and he loves it. He is gentle and sweet with everyone he meets and easily wins over hearts and leaves smiles in his path. I know this is something precious that we will always remember about him.

Since we started living by Mowgli’s bucket list, our days have become a bit brighter, and through it all, Mowgli goes for weekly chemotherapy treatments at our local animal hospital. Some days it’s difficult to drop him off. I drive home with tears in my eyes. Still, it gives me comfort to know that the team there loves him, and Mowgli is always excited to see his friends there too. The staff are familiar with our journey and are always interested to hear about any adventures he’s had since they’ve last seen him.

Despite all of the ups and downs of the past year, I know, now, that I will always remember it as one of our best. Although the situation is not a great one, it has forced our family to seize each day and to really make the most of the time we have left together. Because of that, for us, 2016 will be remembered full of adventure and experiences that we will hold forever fondly in our memory of Mowgli. Perhaps most importantly, as we step in to 2017 and continue to work on Mowgli’s list, we resolve to ramp up our rescue efforts in Mowgli’s name in order to make the most of the time he has left with us. We are #teammowgli, and my biggest hope is that our story will offer a sense of comfort to other pet owners on similar journeys.

Rachel Makkar and husband Sid Makkar are proud pet parents to Mowgli and Bagheera, they live in Denver, CO and truly cherish every day they get to spend with their pets. They hope that the funds they raise in Mowgli’s name, #TeamMowgli, for local shelter DDFL, will make a difference in as many pets’ lives as possible, so the memory of their sweet boy will live on in a positive way.

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